People have been urged to "take great care" and businesses have been asked to review their safety protocols ahead of the easing of coronavirus restrictions from Monday.

From next week non-essential retail reopens for click-and-collect, as well as for appointment-only shopping in-store, while personal services such as barbers and hairdressers can also resume trading on an appointment basis.

Galleries, museums, libraries and other cultural attractions can reopen, and adult sports training can resume outdoors in pods of 15.

The Chief Medical Officer has said the return of employees to work and customers to the streets is "a very positive sign and a testament to the hard work of the vast majority" of people.

However Dr Tony Holohan added that "it is extremely important that business owners, employees and customers take great care and review safety protocols and practices and ensure to consider all the actions we can all take as individuals to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

He said people should "only return to the workplace if it is necessary to do so" and should continue to "wear a mask, practice social distancing, good hand hygiene and cough etiquette".

Dr Holohan also said business owners and employers have a duty of care to their staff to ensure they reopen esponsibly to mitigate the risk of Covid-19.

He was speaking after the Department of Health reported four additional Covid-related deaths and a further 434 new cases.

The number of people in ICU has decreased by two to 34, while there are 126 patients with Covid-19 in hospital.

The total number of Covid-related deaths now stands at 4,918, with the total number of confirmed cases at 251,904.

Today's cases involve 221 men and 212 women, with 80% under 45 years of age. The median age is 31-years-old.

Of the latest cases 197 are in Dublin, 44 in Cork, 34 in Kildare, 20 in Limerick, 20 in Meath and the remaining 119 cases are spread across 16 other counties.

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Dr Holohan said most of the measures approved by Government will come into effect from Monday.

He said that the caution that they have spoken about is still justified as the situation with the disease remains "stable".

Dr Holohan said every day that goes by they are vaccinating significant numbers of people and moving them from the 'at risk' column to the 'protected column'.

Dr Holohan said that they think there is a trend of people drifting back towards the workplace. He said it is really important that people avoid attending the workplace unless it is necessary.

He urged students to minimise their contacts so that they can complete their Leaving Cert exams.

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said the incidence of the disease is being monitored closely in a number of counties ahead of the easing of restrictions next week.

He said those include Kildare, Dublin, Cavan and Roscommon.

Dr Glynn said that the number of patients in hospital in declining, adding that mortality in nursing home settings has been "virtually eliminated".

Dr Glynn said that while the incidence of the disease is continuing to reduce in older age groups, there has been a slight rise in infections among younger people.

Dr Glynn said on the variant of note (B.1.617), first detected in India, there are 20 cases to date here.

6 things we learned from today's Covid-19 briefing

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has reported one further coronavirus death and 65 new cases in the past 24 hours.

There are 62 confirmed Covid patients in hospital, with 6 in ICU, 3 of whom are on ventilators.

The average 7-day incidence rate per 100,000 is 31.8.

The area with highest rate remains Derry & Strabane, while the lowest remains Ards & North Down on 4.4.

Call to remain vigilant ahead of easing of restrictions

Health officials have urged the public to remain vigilant in the fight against Covid-19 as businesses prepare for a further easing of restrictions on Monday.

People will also be allowed to travel outside their county, while three households or six people will be able to meet outdoors, including in private gardens.

Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid said reduced hospitalisations and deaths due to Covid-19 give further grounds for hope and more than 40,000 vaccines are being administered each day.